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This paper reflects critically on efforts to formalise artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) – low-tech, labour-intensive mineral extraction and processing – in Mozambique. Drawing on findings from interviews with policymakers, representatives from ASM associations and consultations with 200 individual miners, the paper captures the details of the country’s ASM formalization experience.
Findings reveal that despite showing considerable promise at first, the drive to formalise ASM in Mozambique, which spans three decades, has lost considerable momentum. A bureaucratic licensing scheme, overlapping responsibilities at the Estatuto Orgânico do Ministério dos Recursos Minerais e Energia (MIREME), and a shortage of information about miners have contributed to this slowdown. The themes underpinning the efforts to formalize ASM in Mozambique are not new but the case itself has its own unique nuances and storylines.